Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pioneer speakers cut the wires

10/16/2012

This has been a summer with a soundtrack. When we spent time outside, we often brought along portable speakers. Sometime it was the Bose  SoundDock, other times it was the Coby Bluetooth dock that I reviewed a couple of months ago.

Now I'm trying out one of three new wireless speakers launched this year by Pioneer. I'm driving the XW-SMA3, the only one that has a rechargeable battery, which makes it especially appealing for outdoor use. 

Instead of Bluetooth, the Pioneer speakers use Wi-Fi to make a wireless connection between the speaker and a music source. In addition to a longer range, Wi-Fi lets the speaker connect to a music source on your home network, including a computer or digital music server.

The speaker also supports Apple's AirPlay streaming technology which lets you transmit sound from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Android users can get in the game if they have an HTC phone that supports HTC Connect.

And, there's one more way to create a wireless link. The speakers can generate their own Wi-Fi hot spot, making possible a wireless link to a notebook computer or tablet PC.

With all those communication options, don't be surprised to find that the setup routine is a little complicated. The Quick Start guide has six different options for linking the speaker to a music source. It took me about a half an hour to get the speaker up an running on my front porch.

But the results, after some persistence and perseverance, were pretty sweet. The A3 speaker that I tested has a rich, full sound that instantly turned the porch into a party room. 

Here's how the three speakers line up:

The XW-SMA1 costs $299 and features dual 3-inch speakers, a 3/4-inch tweeter, and a tuned bass reflex port. The XW-SMA3 costs $399 and has the same specs as the A1 but with a rechargeable battery and a more rugged exterior. The XW-SMA4 costs $399 and has a slightly larger cabinet with a 4-inch subwoofer.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.

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